Need help for friend

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by lmf64, Oct 7, 2009.

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  1. lmf64

    lmf64 New Member

    I posted yesterday on general, but think this is the better place.
    I am trying to help write a more effective IEP for the 7 year old son of a friend. He's a tiny little thing who needs redirection, due to boredom in my opinion. He weighs less than 40 pounds and is about the same height as my 3 year old nephew, but reads much higher than grade level. Yesterday he read every word of every title on the front page of the newspaper including the word rendezvouser!
    He's been dxd ODD and mood disorder. He's not on any medications at this time, but in the past they tried risperdal and at one point it worked, but soon lost effectiveness and when it was increased did nothing. They also tried him on a couple different anti depressants, which of course led to a worsening of behaviors.
    He is in a class with 3 adults and 7 students designed specifically for ED students, but they can't handle him. It just makes me so mad to see them giving up on him already. They have called mom repeatedly complaining. He comes home daily with multiple incident report sheets. One of which was because he called one of the paras captain poopy pants! I mean come on, he's just a little kid with diagnosed disorders and they worry because he called someone captain poopy pants.
    Anyway, the school has called a meeting for Friday morning and I want mom to be prepared for everything. I am thinking of having a written stay put (what is this called?) order. And a request for an IEE ready when we go to the meeting. The school has made no bones they don't want him there. What else should I do and are there any examples I could use in crafting these?
    Thank you in advance.
    Lisa (for A and M)
  2. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Did you check my reply in General?

    Assuming you did, the stay put thing you're talking about applies if parent's don't agree to SD's proposal of FAPE including if they file due process. In that case the last signed IEP holds and that is the IEP under which the child is served. UNLESS, the SD goes to due process against the parents and gets an ALJ to agree with their proposed placement. But that's highly unlikely to happen since it doesn't sound like he's a danger to self or others.

    LIke I said in my other post, his needs must be identified and then placement decisions made based on meeting those needs. His needs can include academic material above grade level if it's appropriate and supported by academic testing.

    Do you or mom have any idea what placement the SD is going to propose? If not, I would suggest that mom call and talk to the program specialist or whatever the Special Education staff person is called that comes and runs the meetings. If she can do it calmly and politely, I would point blank ask if the SD has decided on changes to his placement or services that they are going to propose on Friday. Hopefully Special Education will tell her and then she can prepare for what they are actually going to bring to the table.

    If they're proposing a new placement are they also going to propose new baselines and goals? Have they done additional assessment since last time?

    If the answers to either of those questions is yes, then she needs copies of those before the meeting.

    Requesting an IEE is very simple. She just needs to write a letter requesting one at the SD expense and give her reasons for disagreeing with the existing assessments (or lack of them). She can also bring it up at the meeting on Friday to see what the SD reaction is to the idea. They can refuse to agree and go to due process over it.

    Check the Wright's Law website article on IEE's for more info

    Mom can't possibly be prepared for everything. What she can do is clearly define for herself what she believes her child's needs are and then ask that those needs be addressed. One effective, non-confrontational way to do this is to ask questions.

    For example, asking -

    How will Johnny's need for advanced academic material be met?
    How will the staff help him learn to sit still or wait his turn?
    What will the staff do when he calls an aide "captain poopy pants" again? (that should be good for a laugh)

    hopefully you get the idea. Articulating his needs without demanding a particular method of meeting those needs is more likely to be helpful than going in with a set plan in your head about what his placement should or should not be. It may be that the SD has a different placement in mind that might be better suited to meeting his needs. Rejecting it out of hand because it's not what you think would be best before looking at the offered placement means everyone loses and the SD sees the parent as oppositional and uncooperative.

    I would troll the Wright's Law website. They have alot of good information and suggestions for how to work things out.
  3. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    rls has given you some great advice. I will second her on trolling the wrightslaw website. It is a plethera (one of difficult child's spelling words!) of information. Direct your friend to go there as well.

    Will she be able to handle all this on her own Friday?

  4. lmf64

    lmf64 New Member

    Thank you both for your responses. Ris, yes I did see your post on general. I've been to the wrightslaw site and man it's going to be a looooooooooooong day of prep today.
    LittleDudesMom, no she won't be able to do it on her own, which is why I'll be there, but I know I can't do her speaking for her. I'll be there to help her not be bullied by the district. The Special Education director and I had it out last year when he was trying to send my son to an out of district/out of home placement without even trying a 1:1. Of course he's also the principal of my son's school, so I have to be careful that there aren't repercussions to my helping A&M. I don't think M needs a 1:1, but we may end up asking for one if all else fails. I was hoping we'd have a little time to prepare. His annual is due in January, but it's obviously time to write a new one for him.
    Mom is willing to transfer him to another school in the district that is also set up with an ED program. The one he's in is brand new, as is the teacher. The other one has been around for at least 7 years (it was there when I transfered difficult child from small town out of district placement when he was entering 3rd grade). The teacher is wonderful and knows her business.
    We contacted PACER the other day, waiting for a call back from them to get her an advocate. We also contacted county mental health for a case worker and one will be assigned in a week or so. They are overwhelmed right now with referrals from the district. I wish it wasn't so hard to get our kids what they have a right to. I know it costs money the districts have trouble coming up with, but our kids are American children and have the right to a FAPE.
  5. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    LittleDudesMom has a great friend.

    Keep in mind that, if things are getting really tense and there is very little agreement about a change in placement that you have two options to consider:

    1) Ask to have the meeting continued to another day next week rather than everyone trying to come to an agreement right then. Cooler heads and all that.

    2) Ask if the district would prefer to go to mediation? That may get you some leverage - hard to say and I would definitely hold it in reserve as long as possible since it may require her to file for due process - depends on the district. Many now have an informal dispute resolution process that does not require filing for due process in order to get mediation services. You should be able to find that out very easily by calling the district and asking.

    Re: Wright's Law and preparation

    My opinion is that what you need to get from Wright's Law is their info on negotiating with the SD when you are at odds, how to manage yourself in a meeting, and how to ask the right questions. If you have the time you could look at their advocate training materials.

    But it is not your job to know every bit of the law. That is theirs and they are often wrong in their interpretation or from just plain ignorance. You cannot turn yourself into a professional advocate overnight.

    I would say that your role is to do two things:

    Keep your cool and not get caught up in the disagreements - if you can - so you can question the implied basis for any disagreements - that good old Challenge Authority thing.

    To make sure that your friend has done what's needed to enable her to go to due process from the strongest possible position. If she's getting upset (or you are), you need to ask for a short break so you and she can re-group. Screaming at the SD people does not look good when you get to due process hearings. Record the meeting - absolute requirement. Ask many of the questions I've listed below so the SD's reasons for their positions are crystal clear.

    You MUST record the meeting somehow if you're not already planning to do so. FAx them a written note saying you'll be recording and then follow that up with a courteous phone call. Your district may require 24 hours notice to do recording. If so and they say you're too late, I'd say "Gee, I don't know what to do. I really need to be able to record the meeting and I'd hate for us to have to re-schedule the meeting because I can't record it. What do you suggest we do?" HOpefully they will compromise with you as long as you're not calling to tell them this at 5 pm and you have an 8 am meeting scheduled.

    It can be vital to your case to stop and ask questions about the legal basis for their positions. These questions can be real meeting stoppers and need to be asked in a tone of inquisitiveness not accusation:

    what part of Special Education law applies here or is the basis for that?
    where can I find that information? In the State laws/regulations or in IDEA or the fed'l regulations?
    What's the exact reference number for that section of the law so I can look that up when I get home?If possible I would find the applicable state codes today and print them out in large enough print that you can read them to take with you to the meeting. Usually the State Dept of Ed has a link to the state ed codes and a search engine. All you have to do usually is search for IEP to get to the section of the regulations that deals with Special Education. Find where the part of the regs that apply to placement and determination of services, IEE's and manifestation hearings at least and print them out. If you have time put them in their own BIG binder to take with you.
    I thought placement was only determined after the team identifies Johnny's needs. Is this correct?This is where it is important that you have done your homework to clearly identify the child's NEEDS - not the placement you want but what needs must be addressed by the IEP. It helps that you are aware of a placement that you believe would be appropriate but you need the SD people to suggest it - not you.
    I'd appreciate it if you could just review for me all the programs the SD has in place for children Johnny's age and identified as ED so everyone here has the same information. I think it's helpful if everyone is familiar with the range of options available through existing SD programs before we discuss placement, don't you?Take notes so you can refer to them when it comes time to discuss placement
    can you explain to me what you mean when you say his score on that test isn't low enough/high enough to qualify him for that service? Are you saying there's a cut off or something like that? Guaranteed to get them to back pedal since IDEA specifically says you pretty much can't do that now. Plus there's the whole federal law trumping state law thing.
    doesn't IDEA say that the IEP team can call for a placement or services regardless of any test results as long as we justify our decision to do so? this is the final trump card to play if they say they "can't" do something like give him an aide or offer him speech because it's prohibited by state or federal law.

    Good luck. Take a couple extra people with you - you aren't required to tell the district ahead of time - preferably people who at least have a passing acquaintance with difficult child. Aunts/uncles/grandparents/family friends/pre-school teacher are some good choices.

    Keep us posted.
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